a conversation with Joyce Laker,
co-director of the TAKS Community Arts Centre in Gulu
At the time of listening back to the conversation with Joyce and preparing the tracks for this on-line publication, I was looking into various forms, projects & artistic productions of how African culture has been “archived”; I mean projects as varied as the Claus Wachsmann collection of Ugandan music (now digitalised by the British Library http://sounds.bl.uk/TextPage.aspx?page=backgroundWachsmann ), or, Okot p’ Bitek’s “Song of Lawino”, or, the “Mbira” compositions for two harpsichords by the South African composer Kevin Volans. An on-line article by Volans in which he questions his position as a “white African” cultural producer while musing over the differences of western & African approach to music production also provided much food for thought in this respect (http://kevinvolans.com/index.php?id=17 ).
Against this background of research, I’m hearing Joyce’s descriptions and thoughts as a vital vision of what is to a large extend still to come: contextualised, community-based research, archiving & productions of African culture by the people who are still living, remembering, practicing & developing the culture locally & out of their everyday life where ever they are.
Such processes could provide Africans & “Northerners” alike with new ways & understanding of “archiving”, for example ways which would be more suitable to the flow, continuity & mobility of oral traditions; new forms of collections, archives & libraries which might possibly be quite at odds with a standardising, transcendental, de-contextualising & dematerialising tradition of shelving & stocking in “western” tradition; developing a new kind of archiving where cultural products & productions don’t leave “the hands” of the people of whose communication infrastructure they continues to form a vital part.
about TAKS Centre:
Regional Community Arts Centre; built in local initiative & self-help; founded & established by Ugandan sculptor David Lukani Odwar & his sister Joyce Laker in 2005; transforming a former colonial golf club to a place for training & exchange; to promote & celebrate local cultural achievements; aiming to engage people in post-conflict Northern Uganda in the creative arts; resuscitate local arts, crafts & arts education; linking contemporary ICTs & indigenous knowledge; recover, heal & develop local cultural tradition & production, esp. under the wider perspective of resolution of conflict through the arts, intergenerational & interethnic dialogue regionally and nationally.
Website TAKS Community Arts Centre: http://takscentre.org
more details also at : http://www.archive.org/details/TAKS_Community_Arts_Centre
Explore & Use the Archived Audio
Playlist of mini-clips introducing artists & organisations in Gulu are also accessible under “Gulu Songs of Wisdom”. They are archived as part of a conversational journey & audio media road workshop in Kenya & Uganda in May-September 2010.